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  • From:USA

Date Posted:05-12-2018 02:38:35Copy HTML

Thread subject line taken from an article of same name in Quillette.  It's part of an essay debate between authors with sharply divergent points of view on where humankind may be headed.

It was written to counter a book review, also published in Quillette by Christian Berggren titled "The One-Sided Worldview of Hans Rosling".  In it, he was severely critical of a best seller written by the late Hans Rosling and his daughters:  A review of Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.  Berggren challenged the validity of most of the Roslings "ten reasons" and in a nutshell, said that theirs was the worldview of cockeyed optimists, influenced by what they hoped for, loaded with biased samples.

The authors of today's rebuttal, Joanna Szurmak and Pierre Desrochers (who've written their own book, natch!) argue that it's Berggren whose reasoning is faulty and his conclusions skewed by "eco-pessimism". 

They ask (excerpted):

Are Berggren’s critique and worldview any more accurate? His facts and positions are squarely in the lineage of thinkers such as Thomas Robert Malthus (1766–1834), William Vogt (1902–1968) and Paul Ehrlich (1932– ) who view human activities as inherently constrained by ecological limits. Environmental policy analyst John S. Dryzek2 labeled this perspective the survivalist discourse; it opposed the Promethean perspective developed by the likes of William Godwin (1756–1836), Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), Henry George (1839–1897) and Julian Simon (1932–1998). Prometheans like the Roslings posit that humanity can, and should, apply the intellects of its most creative individuals and the synergistic effects of large groups of people working to transform the environment in order to improve its lot.

Other sets of names and descriptions exist3 for both discourses but the most accessible are pessimists and optimists. While these perspectives are far from monolithic, their main narratives remain deeply at odds with one another over a significant point: the role of humanity in environmental change. The philosopher Alex Epstein4 contrasted them as follows: Pessimists see the goal of human activity as minimizing human impacts; optimists understand the goal of human activity to be maximizing human flourishing.

The Roslings’ book and Berggren’s critique are good proxies for the assumptions, goals, and values of their respective discourses. Since Berggren challenged the optimistic Roslings’ grasp of reality, we will sketch out the pessimistic narrative he employed, showing how his critique, in turn, failed to present “the world and how it really is.”

The main points of the counterpoint to the Breggman opinion are that despite dire predictions, present and past, human population has flourished.  Or, to paraphrase the old saw "reports of the planet's imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated".  Also, citations of past crises, historically overcome by ingenuity.  

One "objective" facet of this debate that lends itself to semi-objective debate because, data, calculations, predictive models and all, is the planet's carrying capacity for us, as gloomily projected by Malthus and subsequent others, or competing theories of those like the Roslings who see our unique adaptability as up to any challenge.  

Are you an eco-pessimist or do you incline towards optimism?  It'd be helpful and informative to read both Berggren's critique and the response to it, more helpful still to read the Rosling's book - (I intend to).   Dive in as deep as you want, or just opine off top of your head.  

Inevitably (say I) your opinion is going to at least partially be informed by your philosophical view of the nature of the species to which you belong.  Have fun, I'm taking cover.  Lol.  

O ye wha are sae guid yoursel', Sae pious and sae holy, Ye've nought to do but mark and tell Your neibours' fauts and folly! -- Robert Burns (Address to the Unco Guid)
mickeyrat Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
  • From:USA

Re:"The One-Sided World View of Eco-Pessimists"

Date Posted:05-12-2018 04:56:13Copy HTML

I have never been one who believes that we can "transcend our limitations". I think it makes sense to recognize that there ARE limitations, in our lives as individuals and as a species. I don't see that as pessimistic, but rather realistic. I think that it makes sense to be aware of the damage we can do or, for that matter, might be doing, and understand that while it is possible that tomorrow we will invent the magic wand and all our problems will be solved by human ingenuity, we are more likely NOT to invent that wand, and cannot afford a childish belief in magic wands when we are talking about the survival of the species. I would also tend to dispute the notion that because we have survived thus far, we have done so in a way that tends towards the betterment of the species and of earth.
skwanderer Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #2
  • From:USA

Re:"The One-Sided World View of Eco-Pessimists"

Date Posted:05-12-2018 05:14:43Copy HTML

Most species have passed or transformed, some in part due to us....the same will ultimately be in store for us. I've never seen a disappointed pessimist. In any event it stands to reason we have limits, the question is only time. Some people think we will meet our ruin or otherwise ruin ourselves faster than others. The question is not whether we will flourish or perish, but how long we will flourish before we perish.
Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #3
  • From:USA

Re:"The One-Sided World View of Eco-Pessimists"

Date Posted:06-12-2018 04:42:53Copy HTML

Dark death, I don’t give them much thought. Today, I can change tomorrow, possibly my reservations in France for April, and skipping over July on Maui with three of my children, a son-in-law, two grandsons, one granddaughter, an unchanging delight, I am tickled to consider a cruise towards the end of October. I am always bad company around then and solo travel especially aboard a ship is in the best interests of those who would console me......geez, I wish they’d not try. It’s taken years for me to laugh with God about my plans....I’m never giving that up.  Well, except when tears just come out of nowhere the end of October. I read a poem this morning in AZALEAS by Sowol KIM: BORN TO DIE How often do I wonder What I live for ? Innocent of life as it were. The stream empties into the ocean; I will not bend to the workaday Weight of cares. Though man is born to die I reflect on my life Likening it to an ant Lost in molding it’s shelter In the warm spring sun. I will live in earnest Drunk with life of delight. If we are born to live, Why should I worry That man is born to die? ...........translated from Korean by Jaihiun Kim. Eco terrorists were over the top, but the ones communicating why some went such extremes did good work when the country was ready to listen. People felt bad about not listening when a river caught fire.  When  someone said we can get rid of the pollution in the Potomic, people said, Really?  Let’s do that.  People don’t read the Journals for heavens sake.  Some writer looking for a story reads them and translates them for public consumption.  It’s whimsical what the writer chooses for readers and we’re probably fortunate to get as much info as we do, given the soap opera and sports interests that prevails. Thought of a story, but I’m not going to tell it because it’s bad enough that I transcribed the poem I read this morning......lollipops.

govols Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #4
  • From:USA

Re:"The One-Sided World View of Eco-Pessimists"

Date Posted:06-12-2018 11:14:32Copy HTML

The real truth is that humans will either reach for the stars or we’ll die here on this rock. Period. Maybe we terra-form Mars to buy some time, but Sol will eventually burn us to embers if we’re still exclusively here to enjoy it. We ARE going to suffer the next extinction event on this Earth; the only question is whether some of us will be watching it through a telescope or not.

I’m an optimist. I think the environment of Earth is conducive to life and that people have been waving magic wands since before we were even modern humans. The magic wand is what we do. We create tomorrows by doing todays in the manners we currently consider best aimed toward the tomorrow we imagine. Well, that and some gluttony and hedonism along the way. We dream shit up, we bend the world toward our dreams, we fuck it up real good and hard, and we adapt to the new reality we just brought into being. People exist on a ragged edge of going too far.

As a pessimist, though, we’re also inclined to herd. We might follow that inclination and reach for ecological equilibrium. Here we herd, and here we die.

Nickel Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #5
  • From:USA

Re:"The One-Sided World View of Eco-Pessimists"

Date Posted:06-12-2018 11:45:47Copy HTML

There’s a theory about the universe that we’re all connected, our thoughts return whatever we want because the universe works with us. It’s a big secret. So, if you’re thinking most of the time about good things, in time that’s what you’ll get. If you are thinking about bad things, that’s what comes for you. Not sure if that’s related to self-fulfilling prophesy, but that is a phenomenon that happens.
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